INTERVIEW: L!PSTICK | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Leah Roberts and Monarchy by Francis Fitzgerald

“Call me what you want! I’m a bloke in a frock. He/she/it/queen…” So begins my acquaintance with Monarchy, ‘clubland creature’, drag artist and the co-host of Base Camp’s brand new monthly Queer cabaret night, L!PSTICK.

Monarchy speaks candidly about their journey, both in terms of their sexuality and their drag persona. “My character started in secret, I was occasionally dabbling with makeup at my best friend’s house at the age of 15, all while still presenting hyper masculine to the outside world, often scratching my crotch in an Adidas tracksuit and spitting on the playing field at the local park.”

Having discovered legendary Middlesbrough club Tiny, and eventually finding the confidence to express themselves in drag, Monarchy met fine art student Leah Roberts, and a kinship was formed over their shared experiences. “Dance floors and drag dungeons are places where people find themselves and can escape the reality of life for a night.” Monarchy enthuses.

Leah explains how hard she found it to be seen as a woman of colour in the art industry. “Setting up this experience with Monarchy has given me the chance to be able to spread my wings and express who I am as an individual! Being part of the LGBTQ+ community has opened my eyes up to feel supported within and finally have my very own chosen family!”

After bonding over a shared passion for diverse nightlife, the duo decided to start up their own event, and L!PSTICK was born. “L!PSTICK is a big fat fucking Queer party for everyone. Not just middle aged white gay men and certainly not for straight stag-doers that just want to gawp at drag queens and make women who seek comfort in Queer spaces uncomfortable.”

L!PSTICK is a big fat fucking Queer party for everyone

In L!PSTICK, Monarchy and Leah have created an alternative, diverse Queer rave in the heart of Middlesbrough, which will see not just drag performances but also live singers, spoken word poetry and all kinds of other art, with an open mic element to encourage anyone to have a go.

Monarchy reveals more about the debut event’s line-up: “Everybody loves Penni Tration, she’s a Drag Idol judge and will be our DJ and co-host for the main show, alongside myself. Celeste St Claire ‘The Queen of Hartlepool’ is one of the funniest girls about, she is a fab performer and is renowned for her death drops. We also have Loren Heatley – they aren’t a drag artist, they can ACTUALLY sing – Loren’s vocals are incredible. We’ll have some spoken word from Leah, her poetry is DEEP and emotional. Spoken word and poetry is something I feel like every show has room for, it’s a chance for people to feel moved and reflect on life. And there’s drag artist Jester Mess – Jester is what we are all about at L!PSTICK, a trans man and a drag artist isn’t a daily occurrence for many in the town, and this together is unheard of in our area; inclusivity is what we are about, and displaying all types of drag rather than just a big blonde bitch.”

Monarchy and Leah’s passion for the event extends way beyond having a great time, and Monarchy describes the vital importance of access to spaces like this for the Queer community. “I am yet to meet a gay person who has not been affected or discriminated against in some way for their sexuality, and places like this provide us with freedom. My friends are so much more than people I see day to day, they are like a family, and that’s what we want L!PSTICK to be – not just a family, a tribe.”

L!PSTICK takes place at Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Saturday 10th September.

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